The Right Solutions

We fight to get the results you need

Talk to an Attorney Today

Elder abuse still largely hidden nationwide

Shockingly, one in 10 Americans over the age of 60 is the victim of abuse. Strangers are not always the abusers, either. Often, the abusers are those who in actuality are supposed to care for these elders. Such abuse may be physical, mental, emotional, financial, psychological or sexual, and can be premeditated, deliberate abandonment or neglect. However, another aspect of elder abuse is also coming to light – inter-resident abuse.

According to the Gerontological Society of America, the various forms of abuse perpetrated on seniors-in-care has seen a dramatic uptick in nursing homes and other elder care facilities. Even though this seems to be a poorly kept secret, the issue still remains largely hidden. Sadly, for every reported case, there are an estimated 23 unreported cases. This means that there are more than 5 million cases of elder abuse in U.S. facilities, homes and community settings.

The City and County of Los Angeles noted an increase of 500 elder abuse cases in 2014 at board-and-care homes, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Many of those cases involved other residents, but some also involved abuse by a staff member or a younger adult with a disability. Many do not realize that nursing home residents can range in age from 18 to 100.

Weill Cornell Medical University and Cornell University have just complete some startling new research that shows that inappropriate, hostile and disruptive behavior among nursing home residents is a growing issue. This issue has another companion riding its coattails, which is abuse by others living in the same nursing home.

With such a diversity of ages and disabilities, ranging from mental illnesses to dementia, the probability of hostile interactions is very high. Forced to live in close quarters with others with physical or mental problems that culminate in possible incompatibility issues, often results in serious anger management and personal boundary breaches for those who feel or think they have no other recourse but to act up and act out.

Anyone who suspects elder abuse is occurring in any setting should speak to an elder abuse attorney and find out what can be done to stop it.

Inter Resident Violence and Aggression Common in Nursing Homes

Nursing home abuse is an ugly and often hidden phenomenon in many U.S. long-term nursing facilities. All too often, the abuse is at the hands of home staff and aides. However, staff and management are not the only sources of abuse. Inter-resident violence occurs frequently in many facilities and is often not reported or managed successfully by caregivers.

A new report by Dr. Karl Pillemer, professor of gerontology at Weill Cornell College of Medicine, reveals widespread aggression, conflicts and violence are common in U.S. nursing homes. In fact, one in five residents reported having confrontations of one type or another with other patients at least once a month.

Consider some of the stories involving resident-against-resident violence: an elderly lady in a wheelchair, constantly harassed by another resident who wants intercourse, the violent roommate with dementia who bullies everyone and gets away with it, or the elderly man with a flashpoint temper who lashes out at everyone when he does not get his own way. Behavior like this seems to be an every day occurrence in nursing facilities.

In a sample of some 2,000 nursing home patients, virtually 16 percent got into verbal flare-ups involving yelling, screaming, cursing and other forms of verbal abuse. Nearly 6 percent actually got into a physical confrontation with another resident where biting, kicking and hitting were the norm. And one percent experienced unwanted sexual behavior in the form of aggressive advances from another resident.

The most shocking issue involving elder abuse is that fact that it does not just happen in nursing facilities, but also at home and in other private residences. It is a vastly underreported problem that appears to not have any kind of a readily available solution. Caregivers with more oversight and training may be a place to start. Better understanding of cognitive issues would also go a long way toward helping those in care. Dementia is not something people can control and patients do odd things often as the result of mental dysfunction.

Nursing home and elder abuse are issues that the nation needs to look at with the honest intention of doing something about it, not hiding it.

Hidden cameras in nursing homes: a blessing or a curse?

The news is rife with shocking stories about nursing home abuse, and yet no reformative efforts seem to put a dent in it. Elder abuse cannot be tolerated, but little seems to have been done. Accordingly, many families have turned to using hidden cameras.

A 56-year-old bedridden man with Huntington’s disease was residing in a care home. His family was concerned about him and had a hidden webcam set up in his room. During the course of one month’s monitoring, 17 care workers, including nine nursing assistants and eight nurses, failed to check on him, provide enough liquids and pain medication, or even perform basic incontinence care.

The care records for the patient showed a level of care that did not jibe with the webcam footage. The falsified records attempted to hide his neglect and abuse behind assurances of appropriate treatment.

Web cams, also called nanny cams, are useful for criminal prosecutions. They also have a place in civil personal injury lawsuits, and they help prevent future negligence by acting as a deterrent. However, personal privacy issues come into play. Patient privacy and dignity are serious issues, even more so when the patient at risk is non-compos mentis or when he or she has a roommate. Patients with cognitive issues are unable to give consent to being filmed. 

On the other hand, does that matter when film footage shows nursing home abuse that harms the patient in care?

There are no definitive legal points of view on this issue. If you are facing a situation like this and want to install a nanny cam in a relative’s nursing home room, speak to an experienced attorney first. You need to know what your options are to make an informed decision.

Illegally run care homes accused of withholding millions in wages from workers

Many home care aide businesses operate legally, but some off-the-books residential care homes cause harm to all involved with them. A recent raid rounded up the owners of 19 care homes and charged them with fraud.

Three companies figured prominently in the raids: Abraham Rest Homes Inc., Sanchez Abraham Corporation, and Florin White Dove Care Homes. Investigating officers allege that these businesses committed insurance violations and felony counts of tax and wage theft.

Recent news reports uncovered that many immigrant workers in the home care aide sector are caring for seniors 24/7 and being reimbursed as little as $4.00/hour. Many of the caregivers work from 12 to 16 hours a day. Rest home owners profited at the expense of their workers and ultimately built up equity in several million-dollar homes.

As a result of the raids and arrests, more than 60 employees are owed $2 million. The three companies are facing fines of $624,000, money to be split among the workers. The fined rest homes are allowed to remain open, provided that they start paying legal wages and proper taxes. They must also deal with other insurance matters relating to their workers.

Homes that operate under the radar and attempt to take advantage of their workers are creating serious issues for the home care sector as a whole. California labor laws are in place for a reason – to protect worker’s rights. Ignoring those rights will result in fines and penalties.

As California goes gray, abuse escalates

California’s aging population raises a number of concerns, the most urgent of which is elder and nursing home abuse. The older the population, the greater the number of abuse cases. And California is not the only state to notice the correlation between an increasing number of seniors in care and an escalation in senior abuse.

Sadly, many seniors who face abuse on a daily basis do not report it. This is due, in part, to the fact that many abusers are family members, and the senior depends on them for care. The National Center on Elder Abuse indicates that many abusers are spouses, adult children, partners and other individuals within the family circle. Millions of seniors living across America are living in fear.

Consider the situation in Connecticut as an example. Fourteen percent of Connecticut’s residents are over the age of 65, and another 27 percent are turning 65 over the next 15 years. Social services and health care providers have warned that the larger the elderly and disabled population grows, the higher the risk that abuse and neglect become epidemic. There is an urgent need for competent caregivers.

U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics revealed that there are at least 2.15 million elder abuse cases every year. Annually, more than 9 percent of U.S. seniors are likely to experience some form of abuse, whether financial, physical, mental, emotional or psychological. 

Currently, the average age of an elder abuse victim is 77.9 years. With the average age rising each year thanks to new medical technology, the age of victims is bound to rise in tandem.

Will you be part of the solution? If you are aware of elder abuse in a private setting or in a nursing home facility, speak up and contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. Stop the cycle of abuse.

Texas nursing home abuse crackdown may have merit duplicated in California

Texas lawmakers want to shutter nursing homes with a history of abuse. 

Lawmakers intend to choose the absolute worst out of the state’s 1,200 facilities and revoke their licenses. While the idea may make some sense emotionally, mentally, logically and legally, there is a very real question lingering in the suggestion – if Texas shuts down seven nursing homes out of 1,200, where are the current residents going to go?

Displaced residents would need protection, dignity, peace and good care. By shutting down nursing homes in many locations of a large state, lawmakers may leave residents with no place to go or options restricted to facilities hundreds of miles away from family.

The idea may have merit, but it definitely needs to be thought through. Is the Texas government going to build new facilities for the displaced residents? If not, legislators need to rethink their strategy to genuinely protect the seniors in care. Dealing with only a portion of the problem does not solve it.

Nursing home abuse: a bizarre spin-off

When people are considering nursing home abuse, they tend to envision physical, mental, emotional, psychological, medical and sexual abuse. Few think about a nursing home worker possessing controlled substances, including prescription narcotics, with the intent to sell them. Even fewer worry about a nursing home worker trafficking heroin.

Orange County police arrested two individuals at a Greenwood Lake apartment building, where they found 11 wax paper envelopes of a substance police were certain was heroin. Officers also found two oxycodone pills, 6 alprazolam pills, needles and three hypodermic syringes. One of the two arrested was a licensed practical nurse (LPN) working for county-owned and run Valley View Nursing Home.

Police felt that the case clearly connected abusing street drugs with abusing prescription drugs. Allegedly, the LPN used her position of authority as a healthcare worker to access controlled substances and to use them in an illegal manner.

The district attorney has made it clear they are pursuing all available legal avenues to hold the woman accountable for her alleged abuse of authority and for her actions.

It’s infinitely depressing when cases like this one come to light. Seniors in care deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They need to feel safe with their caregivers.

If you have relatives in a nursing home and you suspect that something is wrong, contact a personal injury lawyer right away. Stop the abuse, no matter how unusual or odd the situation may seem.